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Dedicated to “Bharat” and “Dharma”

“Hindu”, India and “Bharat” – The Story behind Word Origins

Several months ago, a friend asked me the origin of the word India and �Hindu�. That question spurred this brief piece of research.

Most experts agree today that the name �India� was derived from the river Indus (in today�s Pakistan). But the name �Indus� itself has a fascinating history behind it.

In ancient times, the entire Indus river system (along with its seven tributaries – Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum, Beas and the now extinct River Saraswati[i]) and the area it covered, used to be called �Sapta Sindhu[ii]� i.e. the land of seven rivers (�Sindhu� means river in Sanskrit).

The word �Sindhu� not only referred to the river system and adjoining area but also became the label to denote the culture that had developed along its valleys (In fact, continuing archaeological evidence suggests that the �Indus Valley Civilization� should more accurately be called the Saraswati-Sindhu Civilization considering the land mass where it developed).

The corruption of �Sindhu� into �Hindu� can be traced back to journeys made by early Persian explorers from the Northwest who due to the peculiarities of their own language aspirated the �S� sound in �Sindhu� to make the word �Hindu�
Thus to world beyond, the area around the Saraswati-Sindhu rivers and its culture became to be known as the area of �Hindus� (thus the name Hindustan which literally means the land of �Hindus�)

This nomenclature stuck and became particularly prevalent after the invasion and conquest of �India� by Mughals. The Mughals (based on the earlier Persian terminology) used the term �Hindu� to refer to the original inhabitants of the land and this label became the way to distinguish native/indigenous/ancient culture form that of the invaders.

About 2500 years ago, when the Greeks first reached the river plains of Punjab, they borrowed the name of the region from the Persians and simply modified it to �Indos�. �Indos� later morphed into �Indus� in Latin � by which name the river is still known in the West. The Romans began to call the whole land mass after this river and thus the name �India� came to stay � which has been the form used by Europeans over the ages.

It is clear from the above that the word �Hindu� simply meant (someone living in India) “Indian” or (something) related to India.

The term Hindu did not signify any religion or set of religious beliefs but was really a label for a specific landmass. At best the word simply implied someone associated with (or dwelling in) the geographical area the boundaries of which were roughly covered by the Saraswati-Sindhu rivers and their tributaries.

In the words of Dr Morales, �the term “Hindu” is not a term that is inherent to the religion itself. Rather, the term is known to have been first coined by the ancient Persians, who were culturally, religiously, and perspectively extrinsic to the culture. The term was first used by these ancient Persians in order to conveniently designate the ancient Vedic spiritual culture, and was mistakenly used to refer to the Vedic religion as primarily a geographic and ethnic phenomenon, more than as a religio-philosophical world-view.To the ancient Persians, the word �Hindu� simply referred to the culture, people, religion and practices of the peoples who lived on the other side of the Sindhu River. In the ancient Avestan Persian language ‘s’ grammatically became ‘h’. Thus, the Persians pronounced the name of this river �Hindhu�, rather than �Sindhu�. Thus, ironically, the currently used word �Hindu� is itself a corruption of the Persian word �Hindhu�, which is in turn a corruption of the term �Sindhu�, which is itself only referring to a river, and not a religion! Thus when the word �Hindu� is used today to refer to the ancient religion of India, the term is in actuality a corruption of a corruption of a word whose meaning is irrelevant to begin with.In his essay, �Word as a Weapon�, Dr Morales has further examined the labels �Hindu� (and �Hinduism�) and suggested alternative terms.In my review of his essay, http://hindu_dharma.blogspot.com/2005/11/excerpts-from-word-as-weapon.html, I had offered the following suggestion, which I believe is even more relevant today:Let us henceforth decide to refer to ancient Indian achievements as Hindu achievements (which is what they are). And let us all insist on calling our religions �Sanatana Dharma� rather than a sterile �Hinduism�.

�Bharat�, that is India
India�s �official� name is Bharat � and this is accorded equal primacy as the word India in the Constitution. In fact the First Clause of the Constitution begins with the words, �India, that is Bharat�.

There is a general mis-conception that India (or to be more accurate, �Bharat�) as a nation did not exist until the British brought hundreds of princely states and fiefdoms under central rule. This is false and historically inaccurate � those of you who have read History would be aware that Samrat Ashok�s kingdom probably had the largest expanse of land of any kingdom in ancient times and of course included almost all of the Indian sub-continent � i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of neighbouring states such as Nepal and Afghanistan.

In the words of Shri Srinivasan Kalyanaraman, �For those who think that the nation of Bharat is a British creation, they should be reminded about Rigveda verse by Vis’vamitra RV 3.53.12: vis’va_mitrasya raks.ati brahmedam bharatam janam, (this mantra of Vis’vamitra will protect the nation of the people of Bharatam). In Tamil bharatam (written pa_ratam) refers to the Hindu ra_s.t.ra.http://hindu_dharma.blogspot.com/2006/02/india-that-is-bharat.html

There are also references in ancient literature, including the �Bhagavad-Gita� to large parts of the landmass that we now call India, as �Bharat� or �Bharatavarsha�. See e.g. an article written by Shri Bhatnagar at http://humnri.com/HumZ/Articles/Article.aspx?number=15181

��from Scanto V of Srimad Bhagavatam -Chapter 19 -The description of Jambudwipa concluded:
The people of Bharatavarsa touch with their body too the water of these rivers, which purify them by their very names.(17)Candravasa Tamraparni, Avatoda, Krtamala, Vaihayasi, Kaveri, Veni, Payaswini, Sarkaavarta, Tungabhadra, Krsna, Venya, Bhimarathi, Godavari, Nirvindhya, Payosni, Tapi, Reva, Surasa, Narmada Carmanvati (and) Sindhu, two big rivers — Andha (Brahmaputra) and Sona (Sone) — Mahanadi, Vedasmrti, Rsikulya, Trisama, Kausiki, Mandakini, Yamuna, Saraswati, Drsadvati, Gomati, Sarayu, Rodhaswati Saptavati, Susoma, Satadru, Candrabhaga, Marudvrdha, Vitasta, Asikni (and) Viswa are (the names of) the principal rivers.(18)

But all this would be irerelevant if we ourselves forget our name � so let us make an effort to remember (and to make others aware) that India does have an indigenous name � �Bharat� � and let us be proud of it.


[i] The first five of these rivers gave �Punj � Aab� its name � the land of five rivers

Related Posts:

More on origin & usage of the word��Hindu�

This must be the last word on origin of��Hindu��


See also this comment explaining the origin of the word, “BhArat” (the real name for India)



May 27th, 2006 Posted by | A Hindu Identity, An Indian Identity, Ancient Indian History, Distortions, Misrepresentation about Hinduism, Distortions, Misrepresentations about India, Featured, Indian History, Sanatana Dharma | 61 comments


  1. Namaste!

    I am very happy that you presented this article on the misconception of the word Hindu. I am glad to know that the Religion is Sanatan Dharm and not Hinduism as proclaimed by some people.

    I had to do a presentation on Sanatan Dharm and my head was almost “bitten off” by one of my classmate.

    I will take pleasure in showing her this article.

    Thank you for putting up such relevant documents to enlight people on what is right from wrong.

    Comment by Nirmala | March 15, 2007

  2. Nirmala,

    Dhanyawaad….and I am glad that you found the article useful.

    You may wish to look at a recent post on this topic: http://hindudharma.wordpress.com/2007/03/04/origin-of-the-word-hindu/

    B Shantanu

    Comment by B Shantanu | March 15, 2007

  3. Namaskaram,’
    I am very glad about this article , history of India as India does have an indigenous name Bharat and I am proud to be an Indian, with great culture & Religious land.

    Andhariki Dhanyavaadaamlu….

    Comment by Muppidi Srinivas Rao | April 26, 2007

  4. Srinivas, Namaskar and thank you.

    You may also want to read this article, “This must be the last word on origin of the word, “Hindu“.

    Join us in the journey to re-build our nation…

    Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.

    Comment by B Shantanu | April 27, 2007

  5. Even before Asokha forged India’s greatest empire, India was called Bharatavarsha after the head of the Bharata clan. This shows that a sense of oneness did exist in those times. Oneness in the sense, people had an awareness of belonging to one entity, though they lived in different kingdoms and republics.

    Though these kingdoms and republics were sovereign, they did form quasi-confederations in times of foreign invasion. This is quite obvious in the response to Alexander’s invasion, when independant outlying kingdoms and republics in the northwest frequently troubled and embarassed Alexander as he marched further into India. Unless there’s a sense of oneness or common need, there can be no confederation type behaviour.

    Comment by atlantean | July 10, 2007




    Comment by manik gupta | July 24, 2007

  7. Shantanuji, this is indeed a brilliant attempt. You have taken a direction which had to come!

    Comment by Anirban | July 24, 2007

  8. This article might be of interest. I found its quite interesting and informative paper.

    The Unity of India

    If you never heard of and seen the second stanga of “Jana Gana Mana” (national anthem), of Rabindranath Tagore, here you can see it.

    It says: The Spirit of India came to permeate the diverse lands and peoples that make up India. It is to this Spirit that the poet Rabindranath Tagore pays tribute in the national anthem, whose second stanza reads:

    Aharaha tava ahv?na prach?rita, ?uni tava ud?ra v?ni,
    Purava-pa?cima-?se tava singh?sana p?se,
    Prema-h?ra haya g?mth?
    Jana gana aikya vidh?yaka jaya he bh?rata bh?gya vidh?ta
    Jaya he, jaya he, jaya he, jaya jaya jaya jaya he!

    Day and night your call resounds,
    And to the sound of your loving voice,
    Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Muslim and Christian,
    Approach your throne from east and west,
    And weave for you a garland of love.
    Unifier of the peoples, thou, dispenser of India’s destiny!
    Victory, victory, victory to Thee!


    Comment by Bharat | July 28, 2007

  9. Bharat: Thank you for the link and the brief description of the second stanza of the National Anthem.

    I will look up the article you have recommended.

    Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 28, 2007

  10. Bharat is actually combination of three words: Bhava (BHA), Raga (RA) and Tala(TA).

    Comment by Pranita | August 7, 2007

  11. Pranita,

    Thanks for your comment. Do you have a reference to this and can you please elaborate on the significance?

    I am not very familiar with these terms in the context of classical music.


    Comment by B Shantanu | August 8, 2007

  12. Dear Shri. Shantanu,
    Excellent subject to have a look it into and debate upon. Coming to the subject I do not know how far it will suit this blog and its readers, but if you lok at south india and when one starts a homam, the Kartha says the following:
    Mamo partha, samastha duritha jayadhwara Sri Parameswara preethiatham, subhe shobane, muhurthe, adhyabrahmanaha dwithiye pararthe swethavarahakalpe vaivasvatha manvanthare ashtavimasathi thame kaliyuge pratheme pade jambudwepe BHARATHA VARUSHE BHARATHA KANDE merohe etc. etc.
    This goes to show that from time immemmorial it is only Bharat and nothing else. Maybe just like the the finding of the word “Juggurnaut” in english arising out of the massive Sri Jagannath Rath, somewhere, sometime, just as it has been stated, “Sindhu has become Hindu” and the “INDIAN WESTERNERS” who have no individuality of their own if they disown the supremacy of the west have kept it up

    Comment by V.C.Krishnan | August 8, 2007

  13. Dear Shantanu: Very educative piece, this one. I am tempted to add, like the proverbial squirrel of Ramayana, my bit to the topic.

    Bharat = a name for the Republic of India. It is derived from Bharata, a tribe famous in Vedic traditions. Some Indians, particularly, Hindu Nationalists, prefer this name.. Source http://columbia.thefreedictionary.com/Bharata

    More material available at http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Etymology+of+India

    I came across a new construal of the word Bharatiya recently and thought of sharing it with you.

    Bha = radiance, splendour

    Rath = engrossed

    Bharatiya = those who remain engrossed in the worship of tej (radiance, light etc.). That is to say, Bharatiya is one who is engrossed in spiritual practice. Consequently a seeker from any part of the world is a Bharatiya. [Source: http://www.sanatan.org/en/organization.htm ] This may be stretching it a bit too far, perhaps. Is it an attempt by a zealous nationalist to superimpose a meaning on a pliant word? The downside with this kind of definition is that most Indians will not be Bharatiyas and many Bharatiyas will not be Indians. I wonder if someone could elucidate whether ascribing such meaning or significance to the word has any legitimacy or sanity. Is such temptingly indiscriminate elasticity in interpretation acceptable or even desirable?

    Comment by Nandan | August 9, 2007

  14. @ Atlantean, Manik and Anirban: I missed thanking you for your comments.

    @ V C Krishnan: Do you have a reference for your verse?

    @ Nandan: Thought-provoking question: “Is such temptingly indiscriminate elasticity in interpretation acceptable or even desirable?”

    My instinct suggests probably not…but let me think and come back to you with a more considered response.

    Comment by B Shantanu | August 11, 2007

  15. Hi..
    good job ..
    last night this question popped up in my head… that why our country is called “INDIA” !?… next morning(i.e. now) the first thing i did was started searching for my answer.. and found it in this article…

    Comment by Gaurav | October 12, 2007

  16. Hey i was really looking some article like this..can i put it on my blog…along with ur weblink..my purpose is just to spread awarness

    Comment by Pritika | October 16, 2007

  17. These sites may provide more information. Please be careful to extract the right information and ignore/dump the wrong info ( which contain lots of misinfo and disinfo).


    And here is a beautiful site, with tons of right information about Bharata, Hindu dharma, culture, history, heritage etc.

    Comment by Bharat | October 17, 2007

  18. Your article does not talk about the origin of the word “Bharat” like it explains “INDIA” rather you get diverted to clarify people’s misconception of how the present India was not given by Britishers which remains arguable coz after Ashoka only Aurangzeb ruled a big part of present Bharat and the English did not get it directly from him!!!
    The Britishers might not have intended to but ended up contributing in giving the current Bharat…and there is much more which will always remain arguable and politically sensitive.
    It comes from the name of King Bharat, the son of Dushyant who was extremely brave and courageous.
    Its better explained on Wikipaedia.

    Comment by xitij shan | January 4, 2009

  19. Xitij: Thanks for your comment but there were kings after Ashok who ruled large parts of India…before Aurangzeb.

    Have you forgotten Chandragupta Maurya…and in more recent times, the Maratha Empire?

    Also in your haste to read and comment, you probably missed the last line of my post which had this link:


    Comment by B Shantanu | January 4, 2009

  20. Bharatvarsh (Region of the Bharata nation) was unified and expanded upto Central Asia during Mahabharata time, under the Kingship of Duryudhan. Karna, who was a friend of Duryudhan and a brave warrior, conqured Central Asian regions. Thats why there are so much Bharatiya/Indic culture found in that region, even today.

    A year ago, Russian archeologists discovered Krishna’s deity in south-western Russia, which was core of Russian civilization. They dated it about 1700 years old. We can see place name of all central asian countries ends with Sanskrit suffix Sthan/stan (means a place), Kazakh-sthan, Uzbeki-sthan, Kirghiz-sthan, Turkmeni-Sthan and don’t forget Afghani-stan and Paki-stan.

    Bharat was always one cultural Varsha/zone. There were hundreds of kingdoms, but belong to same cultural union. During Mahabharata war, Babhrubahana (son of Arjuna and Princess Chitrangada) came from Manipur (‘Mani’ -Jewel, ‘Pur’- City or place) to fight alongside with Pandava. Ghatutkachh (son of Bhima and Hirimba) came from Nagaland to fight alongside Pandava. They sacrificed their life for the cause of dharma in the Kurukshetra battle. So, we can see Bharata was a Cultural nation for thousands of years.

    Comment by Bharat | January 6, 2009

  21. I agree that i missed Chandragupt Maurya however tone of writing that I missed something in haste is not in good taste… is bereft of the humility that is expected out of a scholar.Unhappy!!!
    The fact that Dhridhrastra’s son was called Duryodhan is highly arguable.
    Sorry for the disturbance…carry on with your site, the fact remains that you went offtrack coz my search was about the origin of the name which led me to this site where how bharatvarsh existed before the arrival of britishers is explained even vefore the origin of the name.
    Your site …your choice , if you react that ways to people’s opinion.

    Comment by xitij shan | January 13, 2009

  22. @ Xitij: I miss things in haste ALL the time! …and I am nowhere near to being a scholar!

    Sorry if I came across as arrogant…that was not the intention at all…Comments such as yours add flavour to the site…and keep the discussions alive…so they are very welcome – always.

    Hope to see you here more often…and thanks for keeping me on my toes!

    Comment by B Shantanu | January 13, 2009

  23. @Xitij,

    The name “Duryodhana” is not a negative name. It means “One who is Invincible in Battle” in Sanskrit.

    He was also called “Suyodhana” ( meaning: “An Excellent Warrior in Battle”).

    Likewise, his brother’s name “Dushshasana” means “One who cannot be ruled or subdued”.

    Another brother’s name “Durjaya” meant “One who cannot be defeated”.

    Gandhari and Dhritarashtra picked good names for their children, but the children didn’t live up to their parents’ expectations (thanks to their uncle Shakuni’s influence).

    Comment by Reena Singh | January 14, 2009

  24. Thanks Reena now you have really added a new and very interesting dimension… I had not heard of this before…compells me to read more, know more.
    Shantanu- Very happy to be here!!!

    Comment by Xitij Shan | January 14, 2009

  25. Reena, would request you kindly break these names , if at possible and explain how does Duryodhana become an invincible warrior and also suggest some link which can better explain this to me. Thanks in anticipation

    Comment by Xitij Shan | January 14, 2009

  26. Xitij,

    Just my basic knowledge of Sanskrit….Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong:

    Yoddha = Fighter or Warrior
    Yoddhana = One who can be Fought against successfully
    Dur-Yoddhana = One who cannot be Fought against successfully i.e. Invincible Warrior

    Comment by Reena Singh | January 15, 2009

  27. and no one taught us this History ever… my great education system..

    Comment by arnuld | January 27, 2009

  28. Shantanu, you averred in one of your comments that the answer for resolving India’s identity has to be found in the agreement of a befitting narrative. The name India has established itself for no other reason than out of long usuage. Just like the national anthem, it seems that our country was unable to settle for the proper name for India which is Bharat. Italy would never deign to call itself Rome, as great as Rome’s renown as an all conquering power of the ancient world was. They instead settled for Italy after their mythical king Italus. I have long argued that we should the ambiguity our country’s name for settling for Bharat. This change has to be the first plank in defining a suitable narrative for Bharat. As for the name Hindustan, it lacks the mythical essence that can so powerfully drive a country’s destiny. The name Bharat has that in abundance. Apart from that, historical events have overtaken any broader acceptance for the term Hindu to be broadly inclusive of present day Indian Mulsims, let alone Pakistan and Bangladesh. As for the term Hindu to apply to our religious identity, the only other description in sanatan dharma is not suitable. Dharma is a more suitable term for its brevity and should be defined to include “compassion, moderation, humility and law”.

    Comment by Khandu Patel | June 13, 2009

  29. Recently there was an interfaith meet between the Catholics and the Hindus in Mumbai. Check out what the Shankaracharya has to say about conversion.


    Comment by K. Harapriya | June 13, 2009

  30. There are many aspects to the conversion story. Christian teachings has been about personal faith: so it is hard to see how the pope can promise to stop conversion activities much of India’s dalit/tribal population see it as an escape from exclusion by the rest of the Hindus. You can see I am choosing my words very carefully. The practice of the Hindus/dalits has been so diverse from mainstream Hinduism that we splitting hairs as to what properly defines it. Such social and political gulf is destructive of the unity of our country and religion so we should thread very carefully. The other aspect to it is that conversion is a right conferred in the Indian constitution with the right to practive and propogate religion. It does not endorse Hinduism’s special position as the religion of our country: even secular countries like the US and UK recognise their religions special place in shaping their nations. We were unfortunate to have had Nehru and Gandhi as our leaders who were not up to the challenge of incorporating Hinduism as our nation’s religion. Please do not underestimate the challenges in doing so but it a task that has too long been put off. It goes without saying that the Indian constitution needs a complete overhaul.

    Comment by Khandu Patel | June 13, 2009

  31. @ Khandu (#28): Thought provoking…I will respond soon.

    Comment by B Shantanu | June 13, 2009

  32. Hi,

    This is a well presented article. A friend of mine is planning to start a website in Kannada about the same topic. I am helping in building the content.

    Your site is informative and provide more and more insight on the subject. Great work.

    Comment by Chamaraj Savadi | October 15, 2009

  33. BHARAT is not only piece of land.
    It has a meaning
    BHA = TEJ
    RAT = rahne wala
    jo tejswi woh hai BHARATIYA.

    Comment by Sunil Rinayat | January 17, 2010

  34. Nameste Shantanu ji,

    I’m very thankful to you for such a good reality post. I have been searching for the INDIA name mystery and the BHARAT name meaning for years. Finally I got it. Once again thank you very much.
    Thank you Sunil ji for mentioning the BHARAT meaning.

    Jai Hind.

    Comment by Pramodh | March 2, 2010

  35. […] http://satyameva-jayate.org/2006/05/27/hindu-india-and-bharat-word-origins/ […]

    Pingback by Why BHARAT is INDIA in English? « Saktishree | April 24, 2010

  36. namste,
    I was curious on the name of our country India so while browsing I saw your sight and was happy to know the reason but I do not agree that the name “Hindustan” has nothing connected to the religion of the people living there.because the Persians started calling those people living in that area “Hindus”but than at that time there was only one religion which was “sanatan dharma” and that is what exactly is our today’s “hidu dharma” is.And before the invasion of muslims,there were other religions like Jainism or Buddhism but then they were also more or less hindu dharm.so when they call it a land of people living there it is connected to the religion of those people.so that way Hindustan means land of Hindus(people of certain religion).

    when we talk about oneness of our country we must remember that it was always there way before samrat Ashoka.in satyug when Lord Rama was a king he did “Ashwamegha Yagna” to prove his rule in the whole country which had different kingdoms together just like today’s united states of America.

    The original name of our country was “Bharatvarsha” which was after the name of king Bharat who was the son of king Dushyant and Shakuntala(daughter of Rajrshi Vishwamitra and Menka)

    Comment by priti jagirdar | May 14, 2010

  37. Though this topic is rather old, I think I can contribute something interesting about Bharat/India.
    Immediately after independence, there was a debate about the name of the new country. Nehru wanted to call this India and some others like Patel and Rajendra Prasad wanted to call the new country Bharat. At the end, Nehru prevailed because he pointed out that British Raj used to call the country India and if new leadership would not call the country India, then the new country would not be able to use the existing assets such as consulates that British Raj built. Rajendra Prasad was not happy and he ordered his employees to put Bharat in the cuffs of their new uniform.
    Reference: MO Mathai’s rather shoddy recollection: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20783123/Reminiscences-of-the-Nehru-Age-by-M-O-Mathai-Part-1of2
    The writer was one-time secretary of Nehru.
    What I did not understand was what exactly did we achieve with those consulates. Pakistan had to build all of their consulates and they seem to have all the diplomatic leverages regardless of the atrocities they trigger in the neighborhood. May be it helped our womanizing demagogue to start his idealist dream of non-aligned movement. Anyways, that time Bharat lost to India and it also gave clear indications of how Bharatiya interests would be sacrificed to keep Indians happy in near future.

    Comment by Sid | May 14, 2010

  38. hi ,

    am realy happy to knew whats the origin of the nae INDIA.
    thanks for your valuable information. as an INDIAN every one has to know the origin of name INDIA. Jaihindh

    Comment by bunny (vijayendra) | May 19, 2010

  39. jai hind
    it was interesting to find this blog and people who still think in this line

    what bothers me that, the name ‘india’ was originated from indus river or was given by britishers because the tribes living in us are fondly know as ‘indians’ and we as bhartiyas are compared to them

    people other than living in india try to compare and create an image of our citizens to the native indians of us which is not at all acceptable

    which is why its better to rename our nation as bharat
    to give it a new identity or say its deserved name

    Comment by vikrant adhikari | January 19, 2011

  40. Good to know about the topic which no one ever thinks about in present modern environment.
    By the way I have a question to Mr. santhanu

    I heard from one of my friends that all the Indians now are not natives of the holy land Bharat but are the descendants of the Aryans and the natives are only the tribals that are in small quantities in remote tribal areas…

    I would like to hear on this issue…

    Comment by sreekanth | September 4, 2011

  41. one question sir ,i m little confused till i know the name bharat was given near about 5000 year ago.there king named as bharat.and that he was the greatest king among all kingdom ,at that they were.this king was that king in delhiso pls conform is it right what i said till pls.

    Comment by pankaj m kanphade | September 4, 2011

  42. Sreekanth: Thanks for the appreciation..Pl share widely…
    As for the Aryan-Dravidian issue, you have been mis-informed. Please read this post and related comments…




    Comment by B Shantanu | September 4, 2011

  43. why bharaat is called bharat varsh

    Comment by anil | September 14, 2011

  44. Hi Dear,
    I really glad to know the meaning of the word India and its origin. your explanation and information on the word India is so valuable that every indian must be know it.

    Thank you for help the people like this way of information.

    Comment by JAYESH VANKAR | September 28, 2011

  45. We must have to rencapsulate meaning of BHARAT or BHARATBARSHA from the ethics, mohakabyas, vedas of our country where by renouncing the name of our country where the is hundred percent wrong notion of spelling out of HINDUSTAN, when in medieval period the word HINDUSTAN was irrespective religions of majority of inhabitants. In 15th century Mohapurusha Sankar Deva the great social reformer, architect of Asom’s ‘Santan’ dharma of independent Asom ( Assam ) in east went to different part of Bharatbarasha several times and made round the eastern country of Asom while met several saints like Guru Nanak etc of western country of of his own exchanged their vies on religion and social reformation.Afterwords, Sankar Dev exclaimed in his writing “…….. Dhanaya Dhanya …. Nra tanu bhal (good)……. Dhanaya Dhanya Bharatbarisha……. tua nama ghusio harise ( renounce your name with joy.'( Sankardedeva wrote his writings like Kirtan, Nam-Ghosa, Skandha Bhagabat Gita etc. If we go through writings of mohapususa of different parts of this country it will definitely renounced as Bharat So, it is clear that The British only renamed our country as ‘India’ which must be abolished by Indians (Bharatiayas) the name of our country as ‘BHARAT’ instead of India. Let us debate on this and let us fight with non-violence way for rename of country as BHARAT and to reform our constitution in this sense. Jai Hind! Bandematram! Jai Bharat Mata!!!

    Comment by Dr. K.K. Bonia | October 2, 2011

  46. On hinduism and hindu sacred texts?


    Respected Sir,
    Thankyou very much for this informative article.
    I have certain questions on Hinduism. Kindly answer all with suggested readings. I have asked the same questions to a lot but still nobody answered.
    1-which HINDU sacred text speaks and uses on the term Sanatana Dharma for the first time? Kindly give reference.
    2-who and when or which HINDU sacred text first time declared Hinduism as a way of life? Kindly give reference.
    3-which HINDU sacred text speaks about the birth of Adivasis of India? Kindly give reference.
    4-. What is date for the oldest Vedic manuscripts available today? Where can someone find it? How the dates fixed by scholars? How they translated ?Give suggested readings.

    I hope I will get the right answer from you.
    Thanking you sir.
    Yours sincerely

    Comment by SANJEEVE KUMAR GONTHA | November 27, 2011

  47. @Sanjeeve: This question is better posed on another thread but let me attempt a quick response.
    Re. 1] I will try and find out. I don’t have a ready reference.
    2] This was actually in a Supreme Court judgement
    3] “birth” of Adivasis? What do you mean?
    4] Read some of the posts on Ancient History here and check the links/resources page too.
    Hope this helps.

    Comment by B Shantanu | November 29, 2011

  48. Thanks for the post. I was really looking for an authentic source on issue.

    Esp the Hindu vs Indian conflict. I grew up in an RSS hoursehold an they defines hindu very differently than everyone else :)

    Comment by Indian Youth blogger | January 15, 2012

  49. In tracing the origins of my family name, I found in it’s earlier form it was Bratyh, which in some history books is interchangeable or another form of Barat. I have found several instances also where Barat is Interchangeable with Bharat. The one book that I read stated that the Phoenicians referred to themselves as Barat or Bharats. When I looked up my family name in a book of surnames, it said that it was from the Old Norse word “dark or swarthy ones”. Funny thing about all this is that my ancestors are from the noreth of Scotland!! There is strong evidence that the Phoenicians were travelling to Britain in very ancient times. I have also read that the Phoenicians have some connection to ancient India, as well as the Rig Veda. The Saka or Scythians are mentioned in the Vedas and the people of Scotland claim that they originate from Scythia near the Black Sea.

    Comment by h. brass | January 16, 2012

    Please, remember- this world is “Meant for Trickeriries” irrespective of animals rather it is true in the sense of present human civilization ( of countries ) while other animals even plant kingdom and “Nature” in broad sense are most honest which is cheated by ‘human’. “Adivasi(s”) may be condired as matured and most civilized honest original occupents of world ( any countries ) which are (were) supressed by trickiest human population. GURU GRANTH, SRIMADBHAGAVATH,KORAN etc. are the examples of some of the relegious books on “Sanatan Dharma” mean there is only one God.Hinduism means a continuous proecess of Hindu ( irrespective of relegion .
    Dr. K.K. Bonia

    Comment by Dr. K.K. Bonia | February 17, 2012

  51. Hello Everyone,

    Regarding Bharata and Bharatavarsha, I’m cross posting what I wrote at DFI (Defence Forum India). http://defenceforumindia.com/forum/religion-culture/34313-bharat-how-did-our-country-get-name-2.html#post464195
    Young Bharata was the progeny of King Dushyant and Shakuntala. After Dushyant’s death Bharata ruled as a just King and conquered vast lands as a mighty warrior. He ruled the entire sub continent of India from the ocean upto the great moutains of Himalaya. His empire was called Bharatvarsha, the land of Bharat.
    “The country (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata.”
    Vishnu Puran 2.3.1
    Here, ‘varsa’ means a division/part of the Earth. All this happened many generations before the great Bharata war – Mahabharata
    So Bharatvarsha means Bharat’s part of the land or perhaps – part of the land where Bharat’s people dwell. Pardon, I’m dumb in Sanskrit.
    Bharatvarsha is the correct name and Bharat is only the short version or sort of slang for it.
    DFI is a vibrant place where we discuss subjects from a wide spectra. Focus is on defense and geo politik but issues of religion, culture, history, society & current affairs are well debated. I’m not a moderator or admin to promote that forum here but am a regular visitor and hence this friendly recommendation of sorts.


    Comment by Virendra | May 23, 2012

  52. Thank you very much. It is a very good article to ponder.
    My question is what part did Mohenjo Daro and Harrapa civilization affect Hinduism or how Hinduism affect these civilizations?
    Please give me some references to go bye.
    How did Sindh became 90% Muslim population?

    Comment by Ram Chellaram M.D. Ph.D. | July 10, 2012

  53. Namaskar Shantanu ji,

    You asked me to summarise the pdf doc “Antiquity and Origin of the Term ‘Hindu'” by Dr. Murlidhar H. Pahoja I sent you via email.

    He differs from your point of view regarding Sindhu being corrupted to Hindu.If its the case then Persia should be Perhia.And he also says its Saurashtran practice of pronouncing ‘H’ in place of ‘S’.
    He also says that the word ‘Hidu’ can been seen in the inscription of Darius dated between 520-485 B.C.
    He also says “The Asokan inscriptions (3rd century B.C.)5, repeatedly use expressions like ‘Hida’ for ‘India’ and ‘Hida loka’for ‘Indian nation’.”
    He also quotes from some sanskrit texts about the use of word ‘hind’.
    The chinese used term ‘Hien-tu’ for ‘Hindu’ about 100 B.C and Fa-Hien (5th century A.D.) and Huen-Tsang (7th century A.D.)used ‘Yintu’.

    He also quotes some of the ancient arabic poetry where ‘Hind’ isused for India and ‘Hindu’ for Indians.

    I request you to go through the pdf document its a 10 minute read.

    The link to download the pdf document is sarasvati95.googlepages.com/antiquityhindu.pdf


    Comment by Madhu | September 2, 2012

  54. Shantanu Ji,

    It is our lefty historian’s line to say that when invaders like Arabs came in and saw Sindhu, they called it Hindu and the people around it as Hindu people.
    Hindu is much ancient than that. Although one cannot deny that at some time point of time even Sindhu’s corruption to Hindu may also have been a case.
    But it certainly goes many centuries before common era.


    Comment by Virendra | September 2, 2012

  55. Excellent article by Mr B Shantanu, and very informative thread thereafter. Over the years, I have come across fair bit of research and discussion on the origins of the words Bharat, Indus, and Hindu etc. There is now almost universal agreement on what Shantanu has stated in his article. However, such “conclusions” are not very well known outside the domain of historians, and misconceptiosn still abound. Mr Shanatnu has done a great service by bringiong these views out. His article is very informative, and is seemingly authentic (if such a term can be applied to something from such antiquity).

    Thanks Mr Shantanu, and all the others who participated in this thread, for the illuminatiing discussion.

    While on the subject, I am looking for a FORUM where ancient history of the indian subcontinent is discussed. any help would be much appreciated.

    Regards all, and Jai Bharat.

    Dr Bhupi Singh

    Comment by Bhupi Singh | September 14, 2012

  56. Dear Ram Chellaram you had put some answer of your quotations on dated 10th July, 2012 which were: question is what part did Mohenjo Daro and Harrapa civilization affect Hinduism or how Hinduism affect these civilizations?
    Please give me some references to go bye.
    How did Sindh became 90% Muslim population?

    I came into conclusion that you are lack knowledge about history about Hindustan or Bharat’s (as don’t say India ) civilization i.e Indus Valley civilization and other civilization and genesis of these concerned to your quotations which is well explained history and also in social studies, the Competition Success, etc.Answer of your last question might be that entrance of Muslims and muslim rulers into different parts of Bharat starting from Sindh.Excepting best muslim rulers, due due to supremacy Muslims over hindus and barbarism most of the Hindu population forced to converted to muslim and due to this Sindh become 90% Muslim or more population. You should go through Nehru’s book “Glymps of History..”.Don’t mind please.Jai Bharat mata.
    Dr. K.K.Bonia, Professor, Guwahati,Assam

    Comment by Dr. K.K. Bonia | January 1, 2013

  57. Namaste,

    I find it still not convincing.

    Sindhu –> through Persians –> Hindu

    That means there are no words in Persian which starts with “S”?

    for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_name has many names starting with “S”. There are also many words as well.

    I think this conversion of Sindhu to Hindu is not correct, may be we don’t know how it came, but i fail to believe the Persian story?


    Comment by Arun | September 24, 2013

  58. Good that i stumbled my way to reach this page. I have been disturbed by the thought “if the words ‘India’ and ‘Hinduism’ are products of mispronounciation by outsiders, where does that leave my national and ‘religious’ identity?”
    I am all for reverting to / adopting bhAratvarsh & sanAtana dharma.

    Comment by Swarna | June 28, 2014

  59. Here’s Ram Jethamalani on the origin and connotation of the word, “Hindu”:

    The word Hinduism did not exist before 1830. It was created by the English colonialists. I quote this from the secular Encyclopaedia Britannica, and not from an Indian text, that can be alleged to be “Hindutva propaganda”, a common but ignorant idiom of attack. There is no mention of the terms “Hindu” or “Sanatana Dharma” in the Vedas, Puranas or any other religious text prior to 1830 AD. Nor are they found in any inscription or in any record of foreign travellers to India before English rule. The term “Hindusthan” was first used in the 12th century by Muhammad Ghori, who dubbed his new subjects “Hindus”.

    Throughout India’s ancient history, the word Hindu was never meant to denote religion. It was a geographic and cultural term used by the Greeks, Persians and Arabs, derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu, to describe the people living by and beyond the river Sindhu. The Greeks modified Sindhu to Indos, and it is said that ancient Persian explorers because of their pronunciation rules dropped the letter S from Sindhu, and called the people living around the Sindhu River as Hindus.

    Though initially an outsiders’ term, this nomenclature stuck and became a label after the Muslim conquests to distinguish between the original inhabitants of the land from the invaders. Then came the first census of India by the British in 1871 that defined “Hindu” as an omnibus term to encompass several religions that were not Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, or Jain. Later, the term Sanatana Dharma was invented to deliberately swallow the English invention of Hinduism. The British, after the mutiny of 1857, had made it a policy to use every possible means — political, administrative and social to accentuate identity differences and create conflict between the Muslims and the Hindus and started official use of the term Hindu to connote religious identity. Thus, a term that originated to give geographical and cultural identity to a people, mutated through usage attributed by the rulers through the turbulent history of India, into a word connoting a religion, and that is how it stands today.

    And what according to the British did their newly coined religion “Hindu” stand for? They couldn’t figure out too much, except that it was an extremely lofty philosophy that truth or reality cannot be encapsulated in any dogma or creedal formulation, a perspective expressed in the Hindu prayer “may good thoughts come to us from all sides,” translated into multileveled, and pluralistic traditions. Since the term “Hindu religion” denotes all the religions of India together, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Tantrism, Shaktism, etc., each with different doctrines, often contrary to one another, it could not refer to any one single religion.

    Indeed, Encyclopaedia Britannica accepts that “Hinduism” is a blanket term covering several religions and does not refer to a single religion. “…Hinduism is both a civilisation and a congregation of religions; it has neither a beginning, nor a founder, nor a central authority, hierarchy or organisation. It is the glorious catholicity of Hinduism that one can be a believer in one God, or multiplicity of Gods or even none at all. Hinduism does not expel much less crucify alleged non believers. Every attempt at a specific definition of Hinduism has proved unsatisfactory in one way or another. …Hinduism is not a revealed religion and, therefore, has neither a founder nor definite teachings or common system of doctrines … It has no organisation, no dogma or accepted creeds. There is no authority with recognised jurisdiction. A man, therefore, could neglect any one of the prescribed duties of his group and still be regarded as a good Hindu.”

    These are some of the commentaries on the faith and practice of the religion practised from time immemorial of the people living beyond the Indus who came to be called as Hindus by foreign invaders, and their extraordinary and indefinable religion coined as Hinduism by the British.

    Comment by B Shantanu | July 18, 2014

  60. Dear Shantanu,

    Hindu is not just a geographical term. It has come out of the people instead. There is originality to the name of this country and no it hasn’t sprouted from that river.
    Have posed a few questions to the author, though I’m doubtful of receiving any answer.
    1. If Persians were so incapable of pronouncing S and habitually turned everything S to H – how is it that Susa and Shiraz etc are names of Persian towns?
    2. If Greeks found it so difficult to pronounce Hindu and changed it to Indu, how is it that they have famous people named as Homer, Heraclitus and Herodotus among them?
    3. Why is it that Hieun Tsang clearly writes – “the correct pronunciation for Tien Chu (India) is Intu”. Intu is understood as Moon in China. Why?

    In ancient times, China was known as the land of Sun and India as the land of Moon.
    Why was India the land of Moon? Because the famous King Bharata after whom this country got its name, was a Chandravanshi kshatriya.
    intu means Moon even in Tamil.
    4. Persians say Hindu, Chinese say Intu and Greeks call us Indu. What is common in all these? The part – Ind. What does this Ind mean?
    It means Moon. We are the Moon people, simple as that.


    Comment by Virendra | July 31, 2014

  61. Fascinating research by Dr Kalyanaraman: Might “Bharat” – the name of the nation be derived from the metal trade? Read on (from a recent emial from him):

    “Bharat” , name of a nation. Root: bharatiyo ‘caster of metals’, bharat

    name of a nation. Root: bharatiyo ‘caster of metals’, bharat ‘metal alloy’ in Indus Script

    The trade in metals during the Bronze Age was transacted on the Tin Road from Meluhha, India to Haifa, Israel.

    Casting metals was by using * cire perdue* (lost-wax) casting method – *dhokra*, a gloss which is recorded in seals from Dholavira and
    Mohenjo-daro. Invention of alloys revolutionised Bronze Age thanks to the artisans of the Sarasvati-Sindhu (Hindu) civilization. A significant contribution was the invention of a writing system necessitated by the Bronze Age inventions and trade, using Meluhha hieroglyphs which provide clues to the invention of *bharat*, an alloy of copper, tin and zinc.

    भरत (p. 603)

    [bharata ] *n* A factitious metal compounded of copper, pewter, tin
    &c.भरताचें भांडें (p. 603)

    [bharatācē mbhāṇḍēṃ ] *n* A vessel made of the metal भरत. 2 See भरिताचें
    भांडें.भरती (p. 603)

    [bharatī ] *a* Composed of the metal भरत. (Molesworth Marathi
    Dictionary).This gloss, *bharata* is denoted by the hieroglyphs: backbone, ox.
    Seal published by Omananda Saraswati. In Pl. 275: Omananda Saraswati 1975.

    <a href="”Ancient Seals of Haryana (in Hindi). Rohtak.
    This pictorial motif gets normalized in Indus writing system as a hieroglyph sign: *baraḍo* = spine; backbone (Tulu) Rebus:*baran**, bharat* ‘mixed alloys’ (5 copper, 4 zinc and 1 tin) (Punjabi) Tir. mar — kaṇḍḗ ʻ back (of the body) ʼ; S. *kaṇḍo *m. ʻ back ʼ, L. *kaṇḍ* f., *kaṇḍā *m. ʻ backbone ʼ, awāṇ. *kaṇḍ, °ḍī ʻ* back ʼH. *kã̄ṭā *m. ʻ spine ʼ, G. *kã̄ṭɔ *m., M.
    *kã̄ṭā *m.; Pk. *kaṁḍa* — m. ʻ backbone ʼ.(CDIAL 2670) Rebus: *kaṇḍ
    *‘fire-altar’ (Santali) The hieroglyph ligature to convey the semantics of ‘bone’ and rebus reading is: ‘four short numeral strokes ligature’ |||| Numeral 4: *gaṇḍ**a* ‘four’ Rebus: *kaṇḍa*’furnace, fire-altar’ (Santali)

    This is one possible explanation for the ancient name of the Hindu nation: Bhāratam, mentioned in R̥gveda – the Bhāratam janam were metalworkers producing *bharat* mixed alloy of copper, zinc and tin.

    *bharatiyo* = a caster of metals; a brazier; bharatar, *bharatal, bharata* *ḷ* = moulded; an article made in a mould; *bharata* = casting metals in moulds; *bharavum* = to fill in; to put in; to pour into (Gujarati) *bhart* = a mixed metal of copper and lead;*bhartīyā* = a brazier, worker in metal;*bha**ṭ, bhrāṣṭ**ra* = oven, furnace (Sanskrit.) m1225a Side b: ‘*svastika*’ hieroglyph: Rebus: *jasta, sattva* , *satthiya,* *zasath *‘zinc’PLUS ‘four’ strokes: |||| Numeral 4: *gaṇḍa* ‘four’

    Rebus: *kaṇḍa* ‘furnace, fire-altar’ (Santali) PLUS | *koḍa*‘one’ Rebus: * koḍ* ‘workshop’ Thus, zinc fire-altar, workshop

    Side a: *balad* m. ʻox ʼ, gng. *bald*, (Ku.) *barad*, id. (Nepali. Tarai) Rebus: *bharat* (5 copper, 4 zinc and 1 tin)(Punjabi) *pattar *‘trough’ Rebus*: pattar* ‘guild, goldsmith’. Thus, copper-zinc-tin alloy (worker)

    *kanac* ‘corner’ Rebus: *kañcu* ‘bronze’ (Telugu) *dula* ‘two’ Rebus: *dul *‘cast metal’ kolom ‘three’ Rebus: *kolami *‘smithy, forge’ Numeral || *dula *‘two’ Rebus: *dul* ‘cast metal’ Numeral III *kolom* ‘three’

    Rebus: *kolami *‘smithy, forge’ *kuṭila* ‘bent’ CDIAL 3230 kuṭi— in cmpd. ‘curve’, *kuṭika*— ‘bent’ MBh. Rebus:*kuṭila, katthīl *= bronze (8 parts copper and 2 parts tin) kastīra n. ʻ tin ʼ lex.H. *kathīr* m. ʻtin, pewterʼ; G. *kathīr* n. ʻ pewter ʼ.2. H. (Bhoj.?) *kathīl*, *°lā* m. ʻ tin, pewter ʼ; M. *kathīl* n. ʻ tin ʼ, *kathlẽ* n. ʻ large tin vessel ʼ(CDIAL 2984)

    *kaṇḍa **kanka* ‘rim of jar’ Rebus: *karṇīka* ‘account (scribe)’ *karṇī* ‘supercargo’. *kaṇḍa *’fire-altar’.

    Comment by B Shantanu | September 27, 2014

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